Americans In Debt Interview with KDKA Radio Pittsburgh

By Media Relations Senior Industry Analyst Matt Schulz spoke on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 with Robert Mangino and Shelley Duffy of KDKA Radio Pittsburgh about the December 2015 Americans In Debt survey. The interview and transcript are below.


Robert Mangino: How about this? New survey out done by Princeton, Princeton Survey Research shows that more Americans are not experiencing any real concerns about debt, but a growing number are saying they expect to be in debt all the way to the day they die.

Shelley Duffy: That’s not a good thing. But I bet there’s, you know – I mean, again, it’s probably easy to do and not that uncommon, so joining us on the Disc Institute of Pittsburgh News Line right now to talk about that, Matt Schulz, he’s with – senior analyst,, and Matt, that’s a pretty scary number. Is it really a big surprise?

Matt Schulz: It was a little surprising, I think. And it’s just an interesting divide that we’re seeing both the number of Americans with no debt growing, but also the number of folks who have debt who are saying they’re going to die in debt is growing as well, and that’s kind of a troubling split that we see there.

Mangino: What’s interesting to me is that those who make more are more likely to say that they’re in debt as compared to those who make less.

Schulz: Yeah, I think that has something to do with their ability to get access to credit, because if you have a little higher income you might have a little higher credit score. But it also speaks to their comfort with being able to handle a little bit of debt, whereas lower income folks are less likely to have debt, but they’re more likely to feel trapped by what they have.

Shelley: Those that file for bankruptcy and can’t have credit cards or really any debt all, I mean would that figure into this as well?

Schulz: It could potentially. We didn’t ask anything that specifically, but it certainly could.

Mangino: It was also surprising to me that the political affiliations of those who are in debt, and that Republicans are almost twice as likely as Democrats to expect to die in debt. Was that a surprise to you?

Schulz: It was a little bit of a surprise, but I think that the age of your typical Republican might have something to do with that, because what we saw is that the older you are, the more likely you are to believe that you’re going to die in debt, and generally speaking, Republican voters are a little bit older than Democratic voters, so that might have something to do with that.

Mangino: Okay, so more than one in five, 21% of Americans currently in this financial hole believing, and this is the part that’s important, they believe they’re going to be in debt until the day they die. Matt, help them, help us all, what can we do to get out from under that debt?

Schulz: Well, the most important thing is to do something and to not feel paralyzed, and one good thing that people can do is, if they have a lot of credit card debt, is that they can give their credit card issuer a call and ask for a reduced interest rate. And people might say oh, they’re never going to work with me or anything like that, but the reality is that even though only a very few number of people try to get their rate lowered, a surprising number of people are actually successful.

Mangino: What number? What number would you put that at, of those who request?

Schulz: Yeah, it’s about two-thirds of people who ask get that request granted according to a survey we did about a year ago, but only about a third of card holders ever ask.

Duffy: What else can they do? I mean, there has t
o be more than that. I mean what’s the advice for not getting into that situation?

Schulz: Well, really the most important thing to do is to make a budget, know how much you’re spending, know how much income you’re bringing in, and work to see what you can do to free up more of that income to pay off your debt, whether it’s cancelling cable or whether it’s selling something of value that you own but that you don’t use all that much anymore, little things can help.

Mangino: And when it comes to the debt that many people who are poor are dealing with, high interest rates, whether it’s on credit cards or even mortgages, that alone can be the difference maker between being able to get out of debt and then being stuck in debt for the rest of your life; isn’t it?

Schulz: No question, and the folks who have made mistakes with their credit over the years and also have built up debt are the ones who are most likely to have the highest interest rates, so it’s very much – it’s very much kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy that we see there.

Mangino: Matt Schultz, senior analyst,, joining us on the Disc Institute of Pittsburgh News Line. It’s one of those things that where I expect to be working in some way or another until the day that I die.

Duffy: Yeah, that’s how I feel, too. I don’t think I will ever not do something, yeah, absolutely.

Mangino: I would like to hope that at some point, though, I will not have a car payment and a mortgage and credit card debt.

Duffy: Yeah, well –

Mangino: I’d like to hope.

Duffy: Yeah, I was going to say, we can dream, we can dream here in radio.

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